It was around 3 0’clock in the afternoon when we entered the Chinar Wild Life sanctuary. By the time we left all three of us had fallen – our daughter on the rocks and we for the place. As a result of the fall our daughter bruised her leg and we bruised our hearts for not visiting the place earlier.
The gods must surely have gone crazy when they crafted the Southern Indian state of Kerala. They so fell in love with it that they liberally scattered the place with some of the most precious tourism treasures and the Chinar Wild Life Sanctuary is definitely one of them.
Located in the southern part of the Western Ghats, bordering Kerala, the Sanctuary is one of lesser known ones. However, I am not going to cover any factual details which you can easily get with your good Googling skills. I will however share my experiences of the place which travel sites are unable to provide.
The Chinar, as far as my knowledge goes, provides one of the best possible walking treks any Indian Sanctuary can afford. One probable reason may be its size, which hinders the movement of vehicles inside its terrain. No matter what, it is indeed a thrilling experience. The eerie stillness disturbed only by the sound of your trudging feet is sufficient to induce the thrill that you have always longed for. The soft squeaky mud beneath your feet could be slippery and the only other thing you may get to hold to break your fall could be the algae donned bark of a tree.
You will be tired and sweating by the time you reach the only clearing other than the entrance gate of the park – a 1000 year old cave hanging at the extreme end of the park Etched on the walls of the cave and preserved carefully from the rain and the sun by the sanctuary authorities is one of the oldest specimen of Cave painting.
You may be stopped in your tracks by the occasional spotting of a Sambar’s broken antlers or a discarded snake skin. However, the owners of these prized possessions may continue to elude you. Just when you think you might have seen the giant grizzled Squirrel, an endangered species found commonly in the area, whizzing past you from one tree to the other, you realize it is just the trees playing tricks on you with their long spiny branches. The only wildlife I was privileged to view was the slithering tail of a cobra (or so claimed by the other members of my group).
As we hopped, skipped and trudged along the sludge and the dry leaves we felt a wild thrill seep into our souls. The deep and dark woods beckon you. They challenge you to take a new route and create another trekking path for new visitors; after all, the winds seem to whisper in your ears, that is how the routes have been defined in the Chinar mires. However, your forest guides accompanying you forbid you to listen to the deceiving winds and advise you to stick to defined paths.
As you follow your guides, who walk ahead beating their long sticks on the ground to warn away all snakes, you stop to capture the riot of amazing colours of the odd beetle or the butterfly resting on one of the several wildflowers dotting the Chinar landscape. Perhaps it is to avoid missing out on surprises such as these and to rediscover the mystique of Nature that you need to visit Chinar at least once.